Court document says UK to seek Brexit delay if deal not made

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson would seek an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline if no withdrawal deal with the European Union is reached by mid-October, according to a document read aloud in a Scottish court Friday.

The document quoted in Scotland’s Court of Session indicated Johnson intends to comply with a law Parliament passed this month that requires the prime minister to ask the EU for a postponement if no deal is in place by Oct. 19.

Jo Maugham, a lawyer representing legislators and activists in a Scottish court case aimed at ensuring the government meets the requirement, tweeted that Johnson agreed in the document not to “frustrate” the law.

The British government submission also included the statement, “he (Johnson) will send a letter in the form set out,” the tweet stated.

“What we learned today is that the prime minister has promised the court, in his own name, that he will ask for an extension under the Benn Act if the conditions are satisfied,” Maugham told Sky News.

The segments read in court contradict Johnson’s public assertions on the crucial question of whether Britain, if unable to finalize a divorce deal with other EU countries by the end of the month, would leave the EU without an agreement.

Johnson has insisted he wouldn’t ask the EU for an extension under any circumstances, saying colorfully he would rather be dead in a ditch, and vowed he will take the U.K. out of the EU as scheduled on Oct. 31, with or without an agreement.

His office did not offer an immediate response to the government submission read in court.

Conservative Party lawmaker Steve Baker, leader of a prominent pro-Brexit group in Parliament, said the court statement “does not mean we will extend. It does not mean we will stay in the EU beyond Oct. 31. We will leave.”

Johnson’s willingness to embrace a “no-deal” Brexit has alarmed many lawmakers since the government’s own assessment of such a scenario warns of an economic slowdown, severe delays at British ports, and possible food and medicine shortages if “no deal” becomes a reality.

Talks between British and EU officials are continuing but key European leaders have already said they think the measures Johnson proposed this week fall far short of the concessions needed to forge a deal.

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